Conflict can be very healthy and productive. You and your customer are taking different perspectives, but if you have the same goal and you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, the different perspectives may lead to an interesting approach or a mutually-beneficial solution.
If the decision was up to us, we might have one solution. If the decision was up to the customer, they might have a second solution – and neither solution may work for the other. But maybe there’s a 3rd or 4th or 5th solution – some of which may be workable for both. Those solutions are determined through Healthy Conflict – leveraging the different perspectives and opinions to get to collective solutions.
Perspectives v. Positions
Where differences exist, conflict is often uncomfortable. Unfortunately, when people have different perspectives, they can turn into different positions. And when we start focusing on our position, that’s when our negative passions can rise, and the conversation can become personal. It can overshadow the main issue or what potential solutions may exist for the situation.
Healthy Conflict v. Combat
So here are some ways to de-escalate conflict so it doesn’t become combat:
Avoid You: Focus on the specific issue, trying to talk less about the people involved and talk more about the process, the policy, the product, the facility. Avoid the use of the word You to avoid making things personal, and try not to take comments too personally.
Set the Goal: Identify a common goal – even if it’s somewhat general. It’s easier to determine a common solution if you focus on what you’re trying to accomplish in the end.
Be Self-aware: Be cognizant of tone and body language as you’re sharing the words, as these affect the emotions as much or more than what is actually being said.
Empathize: Get on the same side of the table with them, even literally at times. Provide empathy, conveying some understanding of their perspective, asking questions and listening rather than interrupting or talking over the other person.
As we’ve often said, it’s much easier and quicker to deal with issues if negative emotion is not involved.
Deescalate conflict in customer service.